Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jets Fall Back to Reality ... Again; Lay an Egg in Cincinnati

BENGALS 49 
JETS 9 

The Jets are who we keep saying they always were: a mediocre to average team that has gotten lucky on a couple of calls this season. The Jets were once again exposed as nothing more than a mere fraud in 2013. A team that has played in over its head for half the season. 

On Sunday the Jets were vanquished by a Cincinnati Bengals team that is not only poised for the playoffs, but is making the case as one of the top two to three teams in the AFC. The Bengals sliced and diced the Jets early and often, jumping out to a huge 14-0 lead on their first two possessions before anyone could settle into their seats. 

Everyone figured that the Jets weak secondary would have issues with receiver A.J. Green, which was the case, but no one would have guessed that Marvin Jones would have a fantasy day to remember. Jones had eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdown receptions, including the games opening score. 

Jones had three touchdowns in the first half, including two touchdowns in the second quarter to help pace Cincy to a 28-6 halftime lead. 

The Jets offense had no answer for the Bengals powerful offense. Geno Smith and crew were manhandled at the line by the Bengals ferocious front seven. Smith was sacked three times, and picked off twice, including one that was returned for a touchdown at the start of the third quarter by Chris Crocker to make it 35-6, Bengals. 

The Jets looked unprepared for this contest, and as soon as the Bengals punched them in the face, they fell flat on their bellies and stayed down for the next 60 minutes. Not once did the Jets show any sign of life in this game. In fact, if any Jets' fan turned this game off in the second quarter, they didn't miss anything. 

So two days after receiving a ringing endorsement for his players, Rex Ryan's Jets failed to show in Ohio. Expect more of the same when the Jets play the Saints at home next week, that will likely drop the Jets to 4-5. Then things will get interesting again with regards to Rex's future with the Jets.  Right now Ryan is safe, but more showings like Sunday and the good feeling will dissipate fast. 

Giants Win Another Sloppy Mess in Philadelphia

GIANTS 15
EAGLES 7

This much was made clear in Philadelphia when the Giants and Eagles did battle on this final Sunday in October, both teams stink with a capital S.

Anyone watching or attending this farce of a game probably was best suited watching it with a clothes- pins on his nose and a paper bag over his head.

While the Giants defense gets credited with pitching a shutout for the second straight week, let's be honest, they don't deserve the credit. This game was more about how poorly the Eagles played offensively than how the Giants dominated on defense.

Michael Vick was woeful. He left the contest early after re-injuring the already tender hamstring he hurt in the first Giants meeting three weeks ago, leaving the game in the hands of rookie Matt Barkley. And the former USC product looked the part of a rookie quarterback from USC. In short, he stunk.

Barkley couldn't handle the Giants blitzes; New York knocked around the rook for four sacks and even stripped him of the football at the Giants two yard line on Philadelphia's only positive drive of the afternoon.

The only reason Philadelphia even scored a touchdown in this game had to do with New York's dreadful special teams, when long snapper Zack DeOssie snapped the football over the head of punter Steve Weatherford. The Eagles recovered in the end zone for the score.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense again struggled to find any consistency in the passing game while Peyton Hillis played the hero on the ground for the second straight week. Hillis' 20 carry, 70 yard performance paced the Giants through the course of the afternoon and helped New York convert on numerous short yardage situations and eat up some much needed clock.

However, the Giants could only muster five field goals. Five separate times New York drove the football deep into Eagles territory, but, when push came to shove, Eli Manning couldn't make the big time connection to push the Giants into the end zone.

For example, on the Giants opening possession, they drove the football all the way to the Eagles 22-yard line only to have Manning throw three incompletions to force the field goal.

Later in the game, with New York up 6-0, Big Blue made it all the way down to the Eagles five yard line. Facing a first and goal it looked like New York was poised to score its first touchdown of the afternoon, yet a holding call on Justin Pugh pushed the Giants back and knocked them off their stride. Manning again threw three consecutive incompletions, so the Giants were forced to settle for another three points.

Even though it's a win, and, after a 0-6 start, the Giants will take any win they can get; the fact remains that this Giants team is over-matched, poorly manned and badly coached. They are lucky that they even had the Eagles and Vikings on their schedule these past two weeks. If the Giants had played a decent team the past two weeks, they would be either 1-7 or, worse, 0-8.

The good news for the Giants? They don't play at all next week with the bye coming up. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Same Ole Mets! Alderson & Co. Passed on Stud Michael Wacha in Draft

Leave it to the Mets to find a way to screw things up.

A scathing article published in the New York Post, Saturday, revealec that the Mets considered drafting pitcher Michael Wacha, only to pass on him because the organization felt they had enough pitching depth and didn't need him.

Well, how do the Mets like Wacha now? Wacha has gone on to be a solid number two starter for the Cardinals with a 4-0 record and a 1.00 ERA in the postseason. Just the other day he helped lead St. Louis to a much needed Game 2 victory over the Red Sox in the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Mets know that they will be without Matt Harvey for ALL of 2014 with Tommy Johns Surgery. Like they old saying goes, you can never have enough pitching. But don't tell that to the Mets and Sandy Alderson.

Instead the Mets drafted Gavin Cecchini, who spent an injury-riddled year for Single-A Brooklyn this past summer.

While it is easy to second guess the Mets on this pick, keep in mind that 17 other teams passed on Wacha as well, it's just a microcosm of everything Mets.

Nobody expected the kid to be lights out, the fact is the talent was always there, and the Mets swung and missed at it. Passing on a kid with that much speaks volumes about the Mets talent evaluation.

Sandy Alderson is on full alert to get the job done this year, after spending the past three years making consistent excuses about the Mets payroll flexibility, while blaming everything on Omar Minaya, when in fact the blame belongs to the owner, Fred Wilpon who is still struggling to pay off his debts from Madoff to his own business properties. READ THIS GREAT ARTICLE!

Alderson promised to spend money in 2014, but that all depends on the purse strings of the Wilpons, and how much they are willing to allow the now embattled GM to spend this off-season.

If the article from the Capital is correct than Mets fans better get used to a fourth year of mediocrity from the Alderson-Terry Collins regime. The Mets have to spend this off-season, they have to bring in some top flight talent into town this year, but the problem with the Mets is that you can never trust their thinking.

They promised new waves of talent for 2013, and never brought anyone in to help the ball club. Result, the Mets went on to win 74 games for the second consecutive year, and if it weren't for Harvey, the Mets would have lost over 90 games this year.

Can we really trust the Mets? Time will tell.


Brett Favre Admits to Memory Loss as Sacrifice for NFL Play

Brett Favre has been many things over the course of his long career. He went from American hero and icon during his days in Green Bay to vilified zero with the Jets and Vikings at the end of his career. But through it all, Favre was always great theatre for the NFL and its fans. 

Now, Favre might be paying the biggest price for his service to the game he loved so much. 

Days after telling the St. Louis Rams that he had no interest in coming back to the field at the age of 44, Favre admitted that he has been experiencing memory loss since his final retirement after the 2010 season. 

"This was a little shocking to me that I couldn’t remember my daughter playing youth soccer,” Favre said. “It was just one summer, I think. I could remember her playing basketball, I could remember her playing volleyball, so I kind of think maybe (I thought) she only played a (soccer) game or two. Well, I think she played like eight. So that’s a little bit scary to me. So for the first time in 44 years, that kind of put a little fear in me," (SportsTalk 570 in D.C. via CBS Chicago, and Yahoo Sports.com).

No player should have to worry that the second half of their life will forever be altered by football, but for Favre that might be the case. He was as much fun to watch as he was reckless on the field of play. But, like Dan Dierdorff always says, "you can only play football at one speed." And Favre did that. 

Favre's admission is the latest blow to a league that has been under intense scrutiny about concussions, and player safety. From the bizarre Junior Seau case to the latest book that came out this week titled "League of Denial," the NFL is caught playing defense on the health of its former players. 

The issue is deep rooted in not only the tradition of the game, but in employee rights litigation. This story is only going to get even more press now with one of the games brightest stars coming forward about concussions. 

While something has to be done to prevent players from suffering life-altering injury, the question about how it will affect the quality of play bares witness. Just take a look at the way the NFL game is officiated nowadays. Players are not allowed to hit the quarterback, corners are not allowed to jam receivers anymore, and apparently, players are not allowed to leap over their own lineman to block field goals, as we saw in the Jets-Patritos game. 

All of these measures, including concussion prevention helmets, and extra padding have been taken into account. As a result we have a game that is producing record numbers in scoring leading many fans to complain about the quality of play. 

One can argue that by putting too much safety measures on the field in the heat of battle will only lead to more injury's, but if we went back to the good ole days of NFL football where concussions were not only common place, but rewarded by defensive coordinators (i.e. Buddy Ryan), then the health and safety of the league's players become that much more exposed. 

Of course the big villain in all of this is the Players Union, who didn't seem willing to step in years ago to touch on this subject. The NFL has gotten the majority of the blame, but there is enough to go around. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Giants Get 1st W Against Heartless Vikings

GIANTS 23
VIKINGS 7

It was a match-up of two teams who probably would have preferred to watch Monday Night Football, rather than play it.

Both the Vikings and Giants played 60 minutes of mistake-filled, miserable football; confirming to the nation that both teams are indeed the dregs on the NFL.

Fortunately for the Giants, the Vikings were far more dreadful than they were on this day. The Vikings offense was atrocious. They managed only 13 first downs and 206 yards of offense. Last year's league MVP Adrian Peterson was held to only 28 yards rushing on 13 carries, and quarterback Josh Freeman, making his first start as a Viking, looked overwhelmed.

In a lot of ways it was like Minnesota coach Leslie Fraizer was playing to lose the game by not removing Freeman from the game for back-up Christian Ponder, and NOT going for a couple field goals when Freeman actually got the Vikings deep into Giants territory.

That being said, the Giants were equally putrid offensively. Their running game once again stalled, and Eli Manning struggled to get any consistency going with his receivers. Every time Manning dropped back it seemed like Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was in the backfield waiting for him.

After a brilliant 17 play 68 yard opening drive that ate 9:36 that led to a Giants field goal, Big Blue's offense went into a funk. The managed a total of 42 yards on four of the final five first half drives, excluding, of course a 78-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown to give New York a 10-7 lead.

The Giants tried to give the ball game away to Minnesota, when Ruben Randle fumbled a punt inside Giants territory, setting up the Vikings at the New York 20. But Freeman was picked off by Antrelle Rolle on second down to kill the Minnesota threat.

Of course with that swing in momentum New York couldn't do anything with it. Manning nearly had a pass picked off for a touchdown, but fortunately the pass was dropped by cornerback Marcus Sherels.

On the ensuing punt it was Sherels who, again, made a mistake for the Vikings. He fumbled the punt back to New York, giving the Giants the football at the Vikings 3-yard line.

Peyton Hillis plowed in from there to make it 17-7.

On a day where nobody stared, it was Hillis who stared for the Giants. He ran for 36 yards on 18 carries, and the touchdown. This was Hillis first NFL action in a long time. He was released from Tampa Bay before the season started and didn't have a team all season. This was the same Hillis who once appeared on the Madden cover in 2012 as a star with the Cleveland Browns. Perhaps Hillis has found a home with the Giants.

While it was ugly it was a win. The Giants maligned defense was up to the task Monday. They shut down Peterson, and harassed Freeman all night, something we haven't seen from that unit all year.

However, nobody will get the sense that the Giants are turning things around after Monday's win. They looked every bit the part of a 1-6 football team. This Giants team stinks, they are lucky that they got to play the equally horrific Vikings.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Officials Give Jets Gift Victory Against Patriots

JETS 30 
PATRIOTS 27 
Overtime 

Leave it to the Jets to have a victory that will forever have an asterisk on it.

A third quarter comeback from a 21-10 halftime deficit that had New York up 27-21 was erased by a Patriots fourth quarter comeback that sent these arch rivals into an overtime that neither side will ever forget.

Instead of earning the victory cleanly, the Jets had to rely on a horrible call by the officials just to have a chance to win this game. After lackluster play calling by Marty Mornhinweg set the Jets up with a ridiculous 56-yard field goal attempt. Nick Folk, who hadn't missed a field goal this season, missed the kick badly.

Right after the play ended a flag was thrown onto the field for unsportsmanlike conduct on defensive tackle Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into the Jets offensive line. It was the first time in the history of the NFL that such a rule was called. It was a horrible call, because replay showed that Jones didn't push his teammate into anyone, he just joined the pile to try to block the kick.

The result: A 15-yard penalty, and the Jets won on a cheap shot field goal. Hideous.

The call once again emphasizes the NFL's desire to have as much offense as possible, even if it means creating rules that make no sense. Rest assure that the officials will never make that call ever again. In fact, it shouldn't have been called Sunday.

The controversy ruins what was an excellent back-n-forth affair between the Jets and Patriots.

Geno Smith took some positive strides in his development. He was sharp and made some big time throws when he needed to the most. At one point he converted six consecutive third down attempts to help push the Jet to an early hot start.

New York jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks in large part to Smith who completed four of seven passes on the drive including the touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley to give New York the lead.

After New England tied the game at seven, The Jets went into a collective funk. Smith had the Jets moving deep into the Patriots territory, connecting on passes of 25 and 16. But, on first down at the Pats 20, Smith tried to thread the needle to David Nelson, but the pass was picked off by Logan Ryan who took it 80 yards for a New England touchdown to make it 14-7.

The Jets never really recovered as the Patriots took a 21-10 lead into the half, and with New England getting the ball back to start the second half, it looked like the route would be in coming.

However, the Jets defense stepped up. They stripped sacked Ton Brady on the first play of the third quarter. Next, safety Antonio Allen stepped in front of a Brady pass, picked it off and brought it back for a touchdown to make it 21-17.

The Jets were on fire. They could feel the tables turning. They forced New England into two consecutive three an outs, including sacking Brady a couple of times. Now was the time for Geno Smith to make a big statement.

Smith's 27 yard completion to David Nelson set up shop at the Patriots 20. Three plays later, Smith took it in himself on a nine yard scamper giving the Jets a 24-21 lead.

The Jets could have easily put their foot on the throat of the Patriots after taking the lead, but never did. The play calling by Mornhinweg got ultra conservative, with nothing really creative.

The Jets drove deep enough into Patriots territory to settle for a field goal to make it 27-21, but if they had been a little more aggressive, the Jets could have scored a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Why? The Patriots were on their heels, and were doing nothing to stop the Jets in the third quarter.

By allowing the Patriots to hang around, sure enough Brady got the football back with a chance to win it. With less than a minute left Brady brought the Patriots all the way down to the Jets 26 yard line. New England looked poised for the second consecutive last second victory, if it weren't for Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski, making his return to the starting lineup in Week 7, would have had a walk-in game winning touchdown catch, as Brady's pass hit him right in the hands, but the tight end couldn't haul the pass in. The Patriots had to settle for three, setting the stage for the bizarre overtime.

With the ... (win)** ... the Jets are now 4-3 and will head to Cincinnati next Sunday for a clash with the Bengals (5-2). While, it wasn't earned the Jets are 4-3 nonetheless, and certainly have saved Rex Ryan's job at least for another week. The victory is also the third comeback victory for Geno Smith in his young career.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Manning Returns to Indy, Open Mike Week 7 NFL Picks

It's week 7 in the NFL and there is plenty of good action coming up this week. Taking a look around the league, and one can see that the divisional races are really up for grabs this year. There is no single team, other than Denver, that looks like a world beater this year.

Take a look at the AFC North for example, the Steelers were 0-4 and left for dead two weeks ago. Now if Pittsburgh wins on Sunday, and gets some help from the Lions (who host Cincinnati) and Green Bay (who hosts Cleveland), the Steelers could be a game and a half out of first! That is how nutty this season has become.

Of course the biggest headline of the week in Denver invading Indianapolis. Peyton Manning meant so much to the Colts franchise, and is single-handly the reason that franchise is considered one of the top teams in the sport.

But don't tell that to Jim Irsay, who had some choice words for Manning this week; saying that the Colts had to move past Manning, because he wasn't a winner. Read my prediction below:

Patriots @ Jets: The Patriots are coming off a dramatic victory against the New Orleans Saints last week, and head to New York with Rob Gronkowski healthy. Of course, Bill Belichick would clear Gronkowski before a Jets game. Belichick's hatred of New York continues to light his flame to this day. Rex Ryan has begged both his players to be ready for the Pats, and begged his fans even more to show up and cheer for Gang Green. While Geno Smith won't buttfumble to the Patriots, he won't do anything to win it either for the Jets. PICK: PATRIOTS 31, JETS 20. 

Bengals @ Lions: The Bengals are lucky to be 4-2. They nearly blew their game against the hapless Buffalo Bills last week, and have had their toughness questioned enough times, especially on the road. The Lions, are a shocking 4-2, but it seems like its only a matter of time before the Packers catch them in the NFC North. Until then, I like Matt Stafford throwing to a now healthy Calvin Johnson at home. PICK: LIONS 27, BENGALS 24.

Ravens @ Steelers: There is something about the Ravens that I don't like. Maybe its the fact that they are missing a lot of key pieces from their Super Bowl team, maybe its the fact that Ray Rice looks finished in the Ravens backfield. The Ravens are lucky to be 3-3, they could easily be 1-5, if it weren't for the Browns and Dolphins, being ... well ... the Browns and Dolphins. The Steelers are coming off a must win against the Jets, and are getting healthy. Something tells me, Pittsburgh is going to make a run. PICK: STEELERS 20, RAVENS 13.

Broncos @ Colts: Now back to the Colts and Broncos. Like I said earlier, Colts owner Jim Irsay threw Peyton Manning under the bus this week, even claiming that Manning told him to draft Andrew Luck. Right, Jim...(sarcasm)... like Peyton wanted you to replace him. Even though the Colts will play a tribute to Manning before the game, Peyton won't care anymore. He now wants to get even for the Colts dumping him. I'm sure there are some Colts fans that wish they never let Peyton go, especially with Manning improving to 7-0. PICK: BRONCOS 38, COLTS 17.

Vikings @ Giants: The Dummy Bowl will take place at the Meadowlands this week, and the Jets are not involved. WOW! The hopeless Vikings take on the winless Giants on Monday Night Football. Both teams need a win, but the Giants need it more. Believe it or not the 1-4 Vikings might be their right medication for Big Blue. The Vikings are a mess. They have no quarterback, and their coach is going to be on the griddle very quickly here. Adrian Peterson is not putting up nearly the same numbers he did, but he's always dangerous. Expect Eli (interception) Manning to throw a pick, but also throw a couple touchdowns to the guys in blue. PICK: GIANTS 27, VIKINGS 22.

Listen to me on Sunday when I host Open Mike on MTRradio at 11 a.m.

Melo Wants to Be Free Agent, But Loves New York

It's no secret now that Knicks star Carmelo Anthony wants to be a free agent, he even declared as much the other day.

With the regular season just two weeks away, this couldn't be a worse time for the Knicks best player to declare he wants more money, and his answer defending his claims did little to put out flames and debate about whether he will return in Knicks blue and orange.

Anthony said: "It's definitely an opportunity that I'm willing to explore and experience," Anthony said Thursday morning. "That not whatsoever means that I'm not coming back to New York or I don't want to be here in New York. So I don't want nobody to get that impression." 

While Anthony says he doesn't want to leave New York, he never mentioned the Knicks. There is another basketball team in town in New York in the Brookyln Nets. Now, with all of the money the Nets have spent the past two off-seasons, adding Anthony in 2014-2015 makes very little sense. Especially with Deron Williams already entrenched as the face of the franchise, but Anthony's quote will make Knicks fans queasy.

Anthony's pronouncement of his desires is a bit selfish, especially with the season so close to starting. The Knicks are trying to defend their division title, while holding off the Nets from taking over both the division and back pages of the local papers.

The Knicks have plenty of question marks coming into this year, and Anthony's desire to be a Knick is the last thing coach Mike Woodsen needs on his plate. Every time Anthony screws up, or has a bad night, his desire will automatically come into question.

If Anthony hits the open market, he is projected, according to ESPN, to make about $95 million, which is the max contract teams can now offer in the NBA. If he stays with the Knicks he would make more.

The Knicks can open negotiations with Anthony in Feburary, but if he is steadfast in opting out to be a free agent, he will garner plenty of offers. The Los Angeles Lakers are one of many possible suitors for Anthony. Although I find a combo of Kobe Bryant and Carmelo highly unlikely, and knowing Bryant's history of being a spoiled brat when he's not the only star on the team, this match is not made in Heaven.

The Knicks open the season against Milwaukee in two weeks.

NFL Coaches Hot Seat Has Plenty of Heat

It's now week 7 of the 2013 NFL season, and one of the more disturbing trends in football nowadays is the coaches hot seat. Seemingly a peak meter that fans and media alike keep consistent track of from the word go is at full tilt this week.

Plenty of teams have underachieved this year, and there are others who have coaches who knew, coming into this season, that they had to win or else.  So who's on the hot seat? What's the temperature?
Take a look below:

Team
Coach
Seat
Prediction
New York Giants
Tom Coughlin (0-6)
Projection: (3-13)
Luke Warm
Giants will win 2-3 games, but Coughlin will come back.
New York Jets
Rex Ryan (3-3)
Projection: (6-10)
Luke Warm
They said his relationship with GM was better, but if things go south toward a 6-10 finish, he’s out.
Buffalo Bills
Doug Marone (2-4)
Projection: (5-11)
Cool
Expectations were already low. Marone gets 1 more year.
Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis (4-2)
Projection: (10-6)
Cool
If CIN misses or losses in playoffs he could be in trouble.
Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin (1-4)
Projection: (9-7)
Ice Cold
Pittsburgh doesn’t fire winning coaches.
Houston Texans
Gary Kubiak (2-4)
Projection: (7-9)
Hot
He’s a goner. Texans are going to miss playoffs.
Tennessee Titans
Mike Muncheck (3-3)
Projection: (7-9)
Luke Warm
Like Rex Ryan, if he finishes worse than 7-9/8-8, he’s out.
Jacksonville Jaguars
Gus Bradley (0-6)
Projection: (1-15)
Luke Warm
Came into a mess, deserves another year to work it out, but we’ve seen 1st year coaches go before. He’s out.
Oakland Raiders
Dennis Allen (2-4)
Projection: (4-12)
Warm
Allen is out no matter what.
Dallas Cowboys
Jason Garrett (3-3)
Projection: (8-8)
 Warm
Garrett will likely get fired even if Dallas makes the playoffs.
Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan (1-4)
Projection: (5-11)
Luke Warm
IF RGIII wants him out, Shanahan is out.
Detroit Lions
Jim Schwartz (4-2)
Projection: (9-7)
Cool
DET has to make the playoffs. Right now they are in position to either make it or blow it. Blow it, good bye.
Minnesota Vikings
Leslie Fraizer (1-4)
Projection: (6-10)
Warm
Could get a second chance. MIN made playoffs last year.
Atlanta Falcons
Mike Smith (1-4)
Projection: (7-9)
Luke Warm
Deserves another shot. This year is a freak year.
Carolina Panthers
Ron Rivera (2-3)
Projection: (7-9)
Hot
Might get fired no matter what.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Schiano (0-5)
Projection: (1-15)
Boiling Hot
He is going to be 1st coach fired.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Steelers Wake Up, Slap Jets Back to Reality

STEELERS 19 
JETS 6 

So after a huge victory on Monday night that left Jets fans delirious over the prospects of their football team, New York came crashing back to earth after the Pittsburgh Steelers smacked the Jets in the mouth in a 19-6 defensive slugfest.

If nothing else, the Jets loss to Pittsburgh proved one thing: this is a team that is still too young, too raw, and, still not ready to handle prosperity.

Some called this game against the 0-4 Steelers a "trap game." Not the case; not against the PITTSBURGH STEELERS, a franchise that defines success in every syllable of their name.

Sure the Steelers were winless, but this is still a team filled with champions from the quarterback to the coaching staff, and the defensive secondary. There are too many guys who have been there and done that, something that the Jets have not done.

The Steelers dominated this game. They held the ball for almost 36 minutes, and Ben Roethlisberger withstood the Jets front seven pressure to pick apart New York's spotty secondary. If there was a day that the Jets missed Darrell Revis, this was the day.

Roethlisberger was 23-of-30 for 264 yards and converted all six of the Steelers third downs through the air.

With the Jets holding an early 3-0 lead, Big Ben completed a huge 16-yard pass to Antonio Brown and a 31-yard completion to Heath Miller to set the Steelers up in Jets territory, before settling for a field goal to tie it at three.

Big completions for Big Ben would be the story of the day. He hit Brown on four consecutive passes late in the second quarter to set up another Steelers field goal to make it 9-3.

Give the Jets defense credit. They kept the Steelers out of the endzone for much of the day. The only mistake the unit made was the 55-yard touchdown grab made by Emanuel Sanders, who blew past Antonio Cromartie en route to the end zone to make it 16-6.

The Jets had their chances to turn this thing around, but couldn't do it.  First, Geno Smith hit a wide open Stephen Hill on a pump fake for 20-yards to the Steelers 21, but safety Troy Polamalu made a great play, banging Hill out of bounds at the 20 to force the Jets to kick a field goal to make it 9-6. If Polamalu were not in the area, Hill would have easily scored to give the Jets the lead.

In the third quarter, with New York poised to score a touchdown, Smith made a boneheaded decision by throwing the football into triple coverage on third and three at the Steelers 27 only to have it picked off by Ryan Clark. That was really the turning point right there. If the Jets score, the game is 16-13. Instead Pittsburgh held onto their 16-6 lead.

While Smith threw two picks, he wasn't awful. His biggest issues was the fact he couldn't handle Pittsburgh's vaunted blitzes and pressures, something that most rookie quarterbacks struggle to handle regardless. Not to mention, it seemed like New York never had the football in this ballgame.

At 3-3, the Jets are now facing the disaster scenario once again. Going back to their 38-13 loss to Tennessee, New York is in the middle of the toughest part of their schedule, a stretch that they are currently 1-2 in. With New England, Cincinnati and New Orleans coming up, things could get very ugly for the Jets ... fast.

Reports Sunday morning were that Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik were "getting along." If the Jets should drop the next three games and fall to 3-6, bet on the dollar that tensions "will rise" once again.

To quote former NFL coach Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were." That is exactly how one would describe both the Jets and Steelers after this game today.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust, Giants Fall to 0-6

BEARS 27
GIANTS 21

There is not much left to say about this 2013 Giants team. A season that many thought could end with the Giants hosting the Super Bowl in their own building, is, and has been DOA for well over two weeks. On Thursday night, the Bears were the next in line to kick the carcass.

Right from the onset things were looking bleak for the Giants after Eli Manning threw two costly interceptions in the opening minutes, one of which was a miscommunication between he and receiver Ruben Randle, as Tim Jennings stepped in front of the Manning pass and took it to the house to make it 7-0, Chicago.

Even with that the Giants played probably their best game of the season. The ran the ball with efficiency from Brandon Jacobs, who turned back the clock to rush for 106 yards and two touchdowns to keep Big Blue in the game.

And after the two costly interceptions, Manning played well, engineering some huge drives to keep Big Blue alive.

However, the Giants defense was once again awful. They were picked apart by Jay Cutler, who found himself laughing at several points in the game. The Giants didn't blitz, didn't frustrate, nor did they harass Cutler, who had his way with the Giants.

The Giants didn't even try to bump receiver Brandon Marshall who had a monster night with nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

After the Giants had tied the game at 14, it was the Giants defense that once again played the culprit in this losing effort. Chicago efficiently moved the football 53 yards on nine plays in 5:11 with Cutler hitting Marshall for a three-yard score to make it 21-14.

After giving up field goals on the Bears' final possession of the first half and first possession of the second half to make it 27-14, Manning tried everything he could to bring the Giants back.

Manning connected with Victor Cruz for 23 yards, and later Hakeem Nicks for 31 yards to push the Giants into Chicago territory. A pass interference call placed the Giants at the one-yard line, before Jacobs plowed in to cut the Bears lead to six points.

New York appeared to have the game in their hands. Manning was at the ready leading the Giants on a potential game winning drive after converting on four first downs to move the Giants to the Bears 36 yard line.

With the way things were going, it looked like it would be a matter of time before Manning hit someone in the end zone for the game winning score. However, the turnover bug reared its ugly head again.

Manning's pass to tight end Brandon Myers was a tad high, but not high enough that Myers couldn't catch it. In fact he should have caught it. The ball tipped off his finger tips and into the hands of Jennings, who picked it off, sending the Giants to woe and six.

Now full panic has set in among Giants fans. Some calling for Eli's head, others Coughlin's head. But the fact is, neither is to be blamed for what has happened here. The Giants are undermanned on the offensive line, undermanned at running back, and their defense is atrocious. There is enough blame to go around, but at 0-6, one has to wonder when the Giants will ever win a game this season.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Four More Years: Girardi Returns to Yankees

Take a hike Chicago, Joe Girardi is not going anywhere.

After taking his time the past two weeks to think about either a return to the Bronx or bolting for the Chicago Cubs managerial job, Girardi made the smartest decision of his professional career, he will remain in pinstripes.

The Yankees who wanted Girardi back and waited until the manager was ready to make a decision, inked a four-year $16 million deal with Girardi Wednesday afternoon. The contract makes him the second highest paid manager in baseball behind the Angles' Mike Scioscia.

Many thought that Girardi was interested in the Cubs job since he is from Illinois, went to school in Northwestern, and was drafted by the Cubs. However the idea of winning now with the Yankees instead of possibly winning at some point with the Cubs was too good of an offer to pass up.

Granted the 2014 Yankees have their issues, but Girardi did an excellent job managing an injured and aging ball club in 2013. He earned the right to come back, and Yankees fans can take a sigh of relief that he is returning.

Good-Bye Buttfumbler! Sanchez has Surgery, Out for the Season

Get your handkerchiefs ready folks, it's the end of an era. Mark Sanchez's career as quarterback of the New York Jets is O-V-E-R, Over! Over! Over!

The bumbling signal-caller had his Jets career basically come to a close on Tuesday when he went under the knife to have shoulder surgery on a torn labrum that he suffered seven weeks ago in a preseason game against the Giants.
Sanchez had been advised for weeks to have surgery, but balked in hopes that he could return to the field and take his job back from Geno Smith. That wasn't happening, and it wouldn't have happened even if Sanchez were healthy.

Thus ends a five year nightmare (not officially, since the Jets are still on the hook for $8.25 million) for the Jets and their fans who had to suffer watching Sanchez struggle and buttfumble his way to national infamy.

It was his running into the backside of guard Brandon Moore during a humiliating 49-19 loss to the Patriots on Thanksgiving that became the trademark of his career. While most quarterbacks are remembered for the games that they won, Sanchez will forever be remembered for the buttfumble. Sad, but true.

Sanchez's career has certainly been a star-crossed one. He was a part of two Jets' squads that went to back-to-back AFC title games in 2009 and 2010, but debate has raged for years as to whether he really led the team to those championship games. Most think that he rode the coattails of a incredible defense and a sound running game to get there.

But the fact is Sanchez was a turnover machine. He never learned from his mistakes, consistently making rookie-like mistakes for four years. In his last two seasons as starter, he turned the ball over 52 times, the highest in the NFL, as he did more to lead the Jets transformation to a total joke.

While the fans endured losing with Sanchez, the Jets did everything they could to replace him, including bringing in Tim Tebow, an experiment that was a major failure.

In 2013, the Jets drafted Geno Smith with the hope that he could compete with Sanchez and beat him out for the starting job. Neither Smith nor Sanchez played well in training camp or preseason, many thought Sanchez won the job by default.

Having to keep the competition active, Rex Ryan decided to put Sanchez into the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Giants, and the quarterback got injured. Ironically it was probably the best decision Ryan ever made, because if Sanchez didn't get injured I doubt it highly that the Jets would be 3-2, and the talk of the town right now.

So comes to an end the miserable era of Sanchez. An era of buffoonery and buttfumbles; deer in the headlights stares and interceptions by 300 pound defensive lineman. It was a tortured era for Jets fans, now it's over. All that's left to do is pay Sanchez his $8.25 million and bid him adieu.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jets Earn Hard Fought Victory in the ATL

JETS 30 
FALCONS 28 

This is the kind of game that Jets fans have been waiting for.

Ever since the Jets beat the New England Patriots in 2010 divisional playoffs, the Jets have never come close to playing as complete a game that resulted in an all around solid, satisfying victory as they did on Monday.

No, for the past 37 games since the AFC Divisional Playoff, the Jets have been mired in buttfumble-land, with Mark Sanchez playing the lead role as the joker. Keeping the faith heading in 2013 was asking a lot of anyone who has rooted for this franchise for years on decades.

Through four games in 2013, the Jets were lucky to be 2-2. Geno Smith played ok at times, and Sanchezian other times, with the shadow of Sanchez looming. Rex Ryan's head was still on the chopping block, and after a 38-13 smack-down at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, it looked like 2013 would unravel as most had predicted.

That was until Monday night, in Atlanta, in the Georgia Dome -- a place that the Jets have never played well in in the few times New York and Atlanta have squared-off.

The Jets grew up on Monday night. A team with so few household names came up big in the bright lights on national TV, with Geno Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, DeMario Davis, David Harris, Jeremy Kerley, and Jeff Cumberland all playing a key roll.

Nobody thought New York stood a shot in Atlanta. Yet, the Jets smacked the Falcons right in the mouth right from the word go.

One could sense something special was brewing when cornerback Darrian Walls nearly picked off Matt Ryan's third and five pass on Atlanta's first possession forcing a Falcon punt.

The Jets answered with Smith engineering a well executed 10-play 35-yard drive that resulted in a Nick Folk field goal to make it 3-0. Something was definitely brewing.

Even when the Falcons jumped on top 7-3, it never felt that the Jets were going to suddenly roll over to the Falcons. Quiet the contrary.

Smith drove the Jets 67 yards on seven plays, highlighted by a big 19 yard completion to Kerley on a third and nine to extend the drive in Atlanta territory. Three plays later, Smith found Jeff Cumberland in tight double-coverage for a 20-yard touchdown on third and 11, and just like that the Jets were up 10-7.

 Geno Smith grew up in front of our eyes on Monday. The Jets simplified the offense. They didn't ask him to do too much, but unlike the incumbent quarterback that he unseated, Smith played smart football. When a play wasn't to made through the air, he took off with his legs, and unlike Sanchez, slid when the time called for it.

He read his progressions, and didn't force the football, and when he felt a rush, Smith didn't try to jam the ball somewhere just to avoid a sack. He played like a guy who has done this before, not like a rookie.

Smith's monster completion to Cumberland down the middle for 47-yards midway through the second quarter that led to his quick dump off pass to Kerley, who took in for six points, highlighted the strides the kid has taken.

The biggest moment of the game didn't come on the offensive side of the ball, it was on the defensive side.

Defensively the Jets were brilliant. Rushing four to five players on every snap, the Jets got enough pressure on Matt Ryan to make him uncomfortable, and if it weren't for a few inane penalties the Jets would have made Ryan look foolish, Monday night.

The combo of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Kendrik Ellis, DeMario Davis and David Harris were incredible all night, but it was their goal-line stand at the end of the second quarter that turned the game around.

Atlanta looked poised to score a touchdown to cut the Jets lead to three, but the Jets defense stood firm. They forced Ryan to throw a couple incompletions, and the pass he did complete to Julio Jones, Harris made a great play tackling the speedy receiver before he ever got to the end zone.

Finally facing a fourth-and-one, the Falcons decided to go for it, instead of kicking the field goal. The Jets were ready, and they pushed Jacquizz Rodgers on his butt at the one yard line to keep New York in front 10 points.

Even with that this game would come down to the final seconds. The Jets extended their lead to 27-14 midway through the fourth quarter when Smith made a great touch pass to the back of the end zone for Kellen Winslow who caught it, and kept both feet in bounds for the score.

But Atlanta didn't go away. Each time it looked that the Jets would force the Falcons into a punting situation, either a penalty flag, or clutch third down catch by Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones would follow.

The Falcons had closed to within 27-21, and were poised to score on what could have been the game-winning touchdown in the final minutes. They had the football once again on the Jets goal-line, and once again it looked like the Jets held when Davis knocked a pass out of the hands of Rodgers on fourth and goal to preserve the Jets lead with less than two minutes remaining.

But, low and behold a holding call was called on the Jets for holding Tony Gonzalez in the end zone. It was a bad call by the refs, and it gave Atlanta new life. Finally, Ryan hit Levine Toilolo for the score to put Atlanta up 28-27.

With a 1:54, it was a smart move by the Jets to let Atlanta score at this point. For as much pride as Rex has in having his defense make a statement on a defensive stand, allowing Atlanta to score with nearly two minutes on the clock was brilliant.

Now it was up to Geno Smith. Would he shrink under the pressure? Would he suddenly look like a rookie? Would he do a Sanchez and throw the game losing pick? No, not this time.

Smith converted on three consecutive first down passes, two to Stephen Hill and another to Kerley. Finally, when he couldn't find anyone on second and short, Smith took it himself picking up the first down and getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Smith positioned the Jets at the Atlanta 25, putting the game on the leg of Nick Folk.

Folk, who before this season had not built a very sound reputation with the Jets, hit the biggest field goal of his Jets career, when he booted the game winner right through the uprights with three seconds left, handing the Jets a thrilling 30-28 win.

There is life in New York football after all, and it isn't coming from the Giants. The Jets, the team nobody expected anything from this year are 3-2, and are now in second place in the AFC East. While nothing is for certain with the Jets, and the next four games will certainly be difficult, they have given their fans exactly what they hoped for -- a season to look forward to.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Eli & Giants Giveaway Game to Eagles; 0-5 for 1st Time Since 1979

EAGLES 36
GIANTS 21 

Not since 1979 have the Giants been this inept.

That was well before Bill Parcells ever arrived in town; well before the club drafted Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and two years before Eli Manning was ever born. Heck, the original "Alien" film was the highest grossing movie of that year!

For the first time since 1979, the Giants are 0-5. A team that can't even find a way through a paper bag let alone get a victory against even the weakest of opponents. The Eagles were the last ditch effort for New York to get into the win column, and prolong the unlikely scenario that this team could contend in the woeful NFC East.

Now, forget about it!

These Giants are no better than a cooked turkey, and it's not even Halloween yet!

The Giants teased and taunted their fans all afternoon. They got of to a hot start with Eli Manning hitting Hakeem Nicks for 49 yards, setting up a five yard touchdown run by David Wilson. Then New York went into proverbial hibernation.

The Eagles, even with a hobbled Michael Vick, found a way to put up 19 unanswered points, including a 16-point second quarter to take a 19-7 lead into the half.

Before leaving with a injury, Vick looked great. He was 6-of-14 for 105 yards, including a huge connection with DeSean Jackson that helped set up the Eagles lone touchdown of the first half. Yet, once he left, the Giants had no answer for Nick Foles, (more on that in a minute).

Coming out of the half, the Giants once again teased us all into believing a second half comeback was in the offing. First Manning hit Ruben Randle for 20-yards, and Nicks for 14 more, before Manning went back to Randle for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 19-14.

With the crowd starting to feel the momentum shifting, the Giants forced an Eagles three and out, giving Manning the football back. For the first time this year, New York scored on consecutive possessions. A pass interference on the Eagles cost Philadelphia 32-yards and set up Big Blue at the 19-yard line. From there Manning hit Randle on a six yard slantto give New York a 21-19 lead.

Yet, once again, New York was teasing us all.

Foles, (told you I was going to come back to him), engineered a swift drive deep enough into Giants territory to attempt a field goal to give the Eagles the lead back, 22-21.

However, as has been the case all season, turnovers proved costly for the Giants. Facing extreme pressure from the outside on first down, Manning tried to hurry a throw to Brandon Jacobs, but the pass was popped up into the air and into the hands of Mychal Kendricks (Yes, that is how he spells Michael).

With great field position, Foles rolled to his left, threw across his body and hit Brent Celek for the touchdown to give the Eagles a 29-21 lead.

All of sudden the energy, and enthusiasm in MetLife had disappeared. The look of despair was back in the eyes of the Giants. Like they did last week in Kansas City, the Giants gave up when adversity slapped them in the face.

This is not a prototypical Giants squad that once built a reputation as one of the NFL's toughest franchises.

 Instead the 2013 Giants are a bad football team that can be had at any point during a ball game. They give up easily, even when an entire quarter, or even an entire half is to be played; they fail at the fundamentals, and fail in the greatest cardinal sin in football, and thats protecting the football.

This team stinks.

This team has no heart.

It is only a matter of time before changes are to be made to the coaching staff. Tom Coughlin has done a great job over his 10-year career with the Giants, but he has to make some tough decisions, and that might involve firing his coordinators who are doing a great job of putting him on the hot seat.

Things have to change now for the Giants. The 2013 season is over, and the next 12 weeks will be about finding out who and whom will be apart of the franchise in 2014. Right now, those candidates are Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and a whole bunch of question marks.

Now is the time for the Giants to truly earn their bloated pay checks.

Then again, looking at the schedule, when are the Giants going to win a game this year? That is the biggest question of all.